The Blockchain in Trucking Alliance (BiTA) is a new industry group created to design blockchain standards and education for the freight transportation industry.

Blockchain is a digital ledger technology that provides an immutable record of transactions that can be shared and audited by buyers, sellers and related partners. While the technology started out in the finance field, it has since been adopted in the supply chain and logistics industry for its potential to improve supply chain visibility and efficiency. Members include technology vendors, original equipment manufacturers, tier 1 suppliers, consultants, banks, carriers, shippers, third-party logistics companies and freight brokers.

A blockchain network could allow trucking companies to share universal trailer pools, renting time on physical assets in a way that is similar to how travelers rent rooms using the Airbnb online real estate marketplace, says Craig Fuller, co-founder of BiTA and chief executive officer of TransRisk, Chattanooga, Tenn. Blockchain technology could also allow shippers and brokers to create self-executing "smart contracts" that automatically provide fuel reimbursements when truckers fill up their tanks, or pay drivers as soon as they deliver their freight.

Other blockchain applications could include tracking every person who has had possession of a truck; ensuring that drivers' histories are accurate; automating equipment maintenance records; recording how many times a tire has been retreaded; or identifying every person who tampers with sensitive cargo such as food.

"This is the most revolutionary technology to hit the industry since the Internet," Fuller says. "It could change the construct of the U.S. economy by disintermediating those businesses that live in the middle and don't create any functional value. Blockchain routes around them, and you don't need to know who's on the other side of the transaction because the contract itself will self-execute."